Vocal point: Upper St. Clair resident brings singing studies under one roof
If even your shower serenades are hard on your ears, Hilerie Klein Rensi has some good news.
“We can teach anyone how to sing,” the Upper St. Clair resident asserted. “Absolutely anybody.”
If the performances of Rensi’s students at the April 30 opening of her Higher Voice Studio facility is any indication, that’s no idle boast.
The singers took turn putting their vocal talents on display for guests at the appealingly renovated three-story building in Carnegie, during an afternoon highlighted by Rensi cutting a ceremonial red ribbon.
“I dedicate this space and this building to all of you,” she said to the students, “that that you always know that your voices are heard and appreciated and loved for all that they are, at their good days and at their not-good days, for the miracles that come out of your mouths and for the human foibles. All of them are precious and special to us.”
A California native, Rensi founded Higher Voice in 2011, after moving to Western Pennsylvania to be near the Steubenville, Ohio, family of her husband, Rob. By the way, he is a project manager with Robinson Township-based Hayes Design Group and served as architect for the overhaul of the East Main Street building.
“We were renting different spaces for our teachers, and we just really needed to get everybody into one spot,” Hilerie Rensi said.
She and her staff of three additional teachers have about 120 students.
“What we do is provide them with a safe place to grow, be who they are and try out new things,” Rensi explained, “and have a community that really appreciates them and supports them.”
Higher Voice lessons start with its Music Together program for children through age 5, and from there, students work on developing their skills in a wide variety of styles.
“Whether you are singing opera or musical theater or rock, learning how to sing healthy is the goal,” Rensi said. “So that’s what we do.”
Also teaching the students are Holly Van Hoey of Bethel Park, Evan Dean of Castle Shannon and Caitlin Carlisle of Zelienople, who student taught at Canon-McMillan Middle School while attending Duquesne University.
“It’s nice to be under one roof, because we’ve been renting space in churches, which have all been great,” Van Hoey said about Higher Voice’s previous accommodations. “But it’s nice to be around everybody and be able to hire other people, and make it more of a community, because it just felt a little spread out.”
Two more teachers are on the way, according to Rensi, who is the only woman in the history of the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, the first arts boarding high school in the United States, to perform four consecutive lead operetta roles.
She views Higher Voice as a venue where singers can pursue what could become professional careers in a highly supportive environment.
“Instead of being competitive with each other, although they are competing, they are each other’s best friends,” she said. “The parents ‘adopt’ all the kids, and it’s a family.”
For more information, visit www.highervoicestudio.com.